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Looking for Alaska
Transcript of Looking for Alaska
After her death, Pudge and his friends feel obligated to discover the reason for the fatal car accident that ended her life and in the process discover more about the meaning of existence than they thought possible. Feminism Overview Female Characters The feminist lens concerns itself with the political, social, economic and psychological oppression of women.
Focuses on patriarchal domination within our culture When analyzing work through the feminist lens, elements to look for include(but not limited to) :
Relationships between women and men
How female roles are defined and how the character expresses these traits
What constitutes masculinity and femininity
How characters are treated based on their traits
Female or male domination Alaska's feminist significance is extremely apparent due to the fact that she is really the only female character and offers the only feminist insight in a community clearly dominated by men.
Alaska's character is extremely complex. She experiences inconsistent mood swings, she's incredibly spontaneous and she's frequently irrational often to the point of hysteria all due to her psychological destruction. However, she is also very intelligent, beautiful, creative and spiritually aware. Alaska constantly philosophically questions her surroundings and herself which create a very compelling individual despite her frequent madness.
There are several aspects of Alaska's character to be analyzed through a feminist viewpoint. "The Feminist" Alaska is very vocal about her feminist opinions. She frequently experiences violent outbursts ranting about how women should not be objectified and is obsessed with not conforming to the "patriarchal paradigm."
However, her behavior, more often than not, doesn't coincide with her strong feminist beliefs. For instance, she cheats on her boyfriend, and she watches porn amongst other acts which are clearly hypocritical of a feminist lifestyle. Pg. 34 – “But Takumi doesn’t know how to iron, either. And when I asked Alaska, she started yelling, ‘You’re not going to impose the patriarchal paradigm on me!’” Pg. 59 – “’She has great breasts,’ the Colonel said without looking up from the whale. ‘DO NOT OBJECTIFY WOMEN’S BODIES!’ Alaska shouted.” Pg. 85 – “’You’re hopeless. Wanna go porn hunting?’” Male Characters The feminist significance of Alaska's character in the novel is exponentially increased due to the fact that she is the main character and she offers the only female insight in an environment in which she is surrounded by men.
From the perspective of a feminist - this can be seen in both positive and negative ways: Alaska engages in many behaviors which might not be viewed as beneficial to the feminist movement. Pudge is the character that progresses most throughout the course of the novel.
At the beginning he exhibits what one might consider feminine characteristics - he's reserved, exceptionally thoughtful and self-conscious. ALASKA
YOUNG MILES/PUDGE CHIP/ THE COLONEL Pudge is inspired by and revolves his goals in life around the ideals set for him by historical male figures. Pg. 5 - "'So this guy, I said, standing in the doorway of the living room, 'Francois Reblais. He was a poet. And his last words were 'I go to seek a Great Perhaps.''" Pg. 8 - "I thought of the people I'd read about - John F. Kennedy, James Joyce, Humphry Bogart - who went to boarding school."
Pg. 143 - "Nineteenth-century preacher Henry Ward Beecher's last words were 'Now comes the mystery.' The poet, Dylan Thomas, who liked a good drink at least as much as Alaska, said, 'I've had eighteen straight whiskeys and I do believe that's a record,' before dying.'" From the first introduction of Pudge, the reader gets the impression that Pudge is very self-conscious. He doesn't have a lot of friends and does not have the confidence to thrive in social situations. These are not typical masculine traits has caused him to become less appealing in the eyes of both adolescent female and males.
Not only is his passiveness a sign of stereotypical femininity - his physical appearence is also suggestive of this. He's short and lacks muscle mass. Pg. 3 - "The week before I left my family and Florida for the rest of my minor life to go to boarding school in Alabama, my mother insisted on throwing me a going away party. To say that I had low expectations would be to underestimate the matter dramatically. Although I was more or less forced to invite all my 'school friends,' i.e., the ragtag bunch of drama and English geeks that I sat with by social neccesisty in the carniverous cafeteria of my public school. I knew they wouldn't come. As the story progresses, and Pudge experiences more and more at his boarding school he gains an increasing amount of confidence and thus the appearance of being more masculine. While at the beginning of the novel, his anxiety in social situations was high, he eventually builds up the confidence to acquire a girlfriend amongst other "social achievements" Furthermore, he states numerous times that his new found enlightenment was a result of his time spent with Alaska. She inspired him to become more outgoing and not be afraid of being an individual Pg. 96 - "'I try not to be scared, you know. But I still ruin everything. I still fuck up.' 'Okay,' I told her. 'It's okay.' I didn't even know what she was talking about anymore. One vague notion after another. 'Don't you know who you love, Pudge? You love the girl who makes you laugh and shows you porn and drinks wine with you. You don't love the crazy, sullen bitch.'" Pg.110 - "The nice thing about the constant threat of expulsion at Culver Creek is that it lends excitement to every moment of illicit pleasure. The bad thing, of course, is that there is always the possibility of actual expulsion. " Pg. 123 - "After so much kissing that it almost started to get boring. I whispered, 'Do you want to be my girlfriend?' And she said, 'Yes please,' and smiled." Pg. 120 - "We need never be hopeless, because we can never be irreparably broken. We think that we are invincible because we are. We cannot be born and we cannot die. Like all energy, we can only change shapes and sizes and manifestations. They forget that when they get old. They get scared of losing and failing. But that part of us greater than the sum of our parts cannot begin and cannot end, and so it cannot fail. Chip (a.k.a. The Colonel) is the other main male character in the novel. He is Pudge's roommate and Alaska's best friend. He seems to express mostly masculine characteristics - he's very muscular, confident and aggressive. But conflicting with this aspect of his identity is the fact that he is sentimental and incredibly intellectual. He is also very short, and mostly likely, to compensate for this he created the identity of "the Colonel" Pg. 57 – “I heard Alaska sigh. ‘The Colonel’s doing his Napoleon walk.’” Pg.45 – “I hated sports. I hated sports and I hated people who played them, and I hated people who watched them, and I hated people who didn’t hate people who watched or played them.” Pg. 130 - "It was that quick. I laughed, looked nervous and she leaned in and tilted her head to the side, and we were kissing." In their social group, Alaska is the only female. Given how outgoing and boisterous she is, her personality often overwhelms and dominates the personalities of her male peers. This is unusual from a feminist perspective because typical women are repressed by men. Her blatant disregard for the rules and regulations set for her by the patriarchal authorities is a sign of her independence and rebelliousness as she manages to avoid patriarchal oppression Pg. 80 - "'I have a fake I.D.,' she said, 'but it sucks. So every time I go to the liquor store, I try to buy ten bottles of this, and some vodka for the Colonel. And so when it finally works, I'm covered for a semester.'" She has the ability to captivate people, both and male and female, making them more inclined to agree with her warped beliefs and outrageous ideas. Pg. 72 - "'You have to understand that with like everybody, even the Weekday Warriors, Alaska is famous for pranking. I mean, last year we put a Volkswagen Beetle in the library.'" Pg. 132 -"'I forgot! God, how many times can I fuck up?' she said [...] I JUST HAVE TO GO. HELP ME GET OUT OF HERE!' [...] We did not say: Don't drive, you're drunk." Alaska is very cultured and intellectual. She has a thirst for knowledge and is fascinated by poetry and other literature. The gigantic stacks of books that lined her walls. Her library filled her bookshelves and then overflowed into waist-high stacks of books everywhere, piled haphazardly against the walls. One of these behaviors is her obsession with having a boyfriend. This may be seen as oppression in the sense that Alaska is incapable of functioning properly without the emotional security of having a partner, even one who isn't around often, and who couldn't be bothered to attend her funeral.
Furthermore, despite having a boyfriend, she acts flirtatiously with Pudge causing him the frustration and confusion of being in love with a girl who is ultimately unattainable. Another aspect of Alaska's character which could be percieved negatively through the feminist lens is that Alaska is so emotionally insecure. She tries to act independently and confidently but is nonetheless stifled by her inability to move on from her mother's death - thus causing irrational outbursts and eternal emotional suffering. Pg. 75 - "I didn't know whether to trust Alaska, and I'd certainly had enough of her unpredictability - cold one day, sweet the next; irresistibly flirty one moment, resistibly obnoxious the next." Pg. 82 - "I thought it might be fine to say the Three Little Words. And I steeled myself to say them as I stared up at that starriest night, convinced myself that she felt it, too, that her hand so alive and vivid against my leg was more than playful, and fuck Lara, and fuck Jake because I do, Alaska Young, I do love you and what else matters but that?" Pg. 11 - "He told me he was in his third year at Culver Creek. He had started in ninth grade, the first year at the school and was now a junior like me. A scholarship kid, he said. Got a full ride." Pg. 48 - "The ref came over and kicked him out of the gym. I followed him. 'I've gotten kicked out of thirty-seven straight games,' he said. [...] 'Yeah, once or twice. I've had to go really crazy. I ran into the court with eleven seconds left once and stole the ball from the other team. It wasn't pretty. But, you know. I have a streak to maintain.'" Overall, the feminist elements in Looking for Alaska are very inconsistent. Some aspects promote feminist values while others discredit them. For the most part however, the work seems to balance both creating a realistic piece of work in which a true society would be reflected through. CONCLUSION